What Was 'Dance Fever?' Deney Terrio's Disco Showmanship Story
By | June 12, 2020
Every week from 1979 to 1987 Deney Terrio and Motion brought Dance Fever into the homes of people across the country. Created by Merv Griffin, the series was born of disco and outlasted the dance trend long after it died. The dance series had celebrity judges who were of the time -- Sherman Hemsley, Barbi Benton and Herve Villechaize did the honors in the first episode -- and performances by artists like The Temptations and Rick Springfield. At the center was the competition, in which couples were given numerical scores based on originality, style, technique, and the all-important (though hard-to-define) "showmanship." Looking at the show today, it may seem like a relic of bad outfits past but at the time it was quite literally beaming culture into parts of the country where there was nothing but a bleak landscape.
Deney Terrio started dancing to meet women
Deney Terrio may not have been a household name in the late ’70s, but he was one of the most important people to disco culture. As the man behind John Travolta’s killer moves in Saturday Night Fever, Terrio was more than qualified to show off his moves and judge contestants on a weekly basis. For disco fans out in the audience, Terrio showed them how to cut a rug in new and exciting ways that could try out at the club week after week.
Terrio didn’t get into disco in order to make a quick buck, he says that if he was going to meet girls he needed to figure out how to move. He explained:
The great thing about having an older sister is she had girlfriends who spent the night. I would peek into the window and see them all dancing. I realized women loved to dance and started telling guys they needed to learn how to dance to get the girls.